October or Bust: The Extreme Halloween Playlist
A lot of people associate metal with horror, and therefore Halloween. It makes sense: both metal and Halloween revel in the bloody, insane, and macabre. Both possess a level of overdone dramatic flair (especially in the ridiculous outfits) and a dramatic sense of catharsis, of casting off society’s norms and being who you truly want to be. And on top of that, nothing is more metal than death, which lies at Halloween’s core.
For me, though, it’s sometimes hard to keep the two together. I’m really, really into Halloween, but to me it has always existed within a fun sort of horror, one more about moonlit nights and old haunted houses and foggy moors and candy. Extreme metal has always represented much more of a primal humanity to me, powered by rage and rebellion. And while the two overlap in a lot of ways, they reside in different realms within my heart; Bela Lugosi’s Dracula means an entirely different thing for me than Slayer’s “At Dawn They Sleep”, even if they’re both about basically the same thing. Halloween is spooky, and, when it’s good, metal is not. When October rolls around, I’m far more focused on The Misfits, Type O Negative, and Danny Elfman scores than most music involving corpsepaint or double bass drums.
However, there are songs that straddle this line, that manage to be dark and fearsome while simultaneously appropriate for this most haunting of holidays. Some of them invoke the great horror champions of literature(Metallica, Mortician); some are anthems to the chill of autumn (Opeth, Marduk); some express the atmosphere of creeping, twisted terror (Cannibal Corpse, Red Harvest); some revel in the blood-spattered realms of horror cinema (Death, One Man Army); and some are even about the holiday itself (The Black Dahlia Murder). While they range from melancholy and death-shrouded to energetic and flame-hearted, all thirty-one of them (see what I did there?) have a certain atmospheric Samhain-ish quality to them that allows them to be appropriately decked-out in orange and black. Enjoy.